Wednesday, June 26, 2013

High school students' self portraits, inspired by Giacometti

Mallard Creek High School students visited the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art's "Giacometti: Memory and Presence" exhibit in January, looking for inspiration. 

The product--the students' self portraits in Giacometti's style--are hanging in the Ross Gallery at CPCC (Overcash Building, 1206 Elizabeth Ave.) through Aug. 5. There will be an opening reception today from 5:30-7 p.m.

Giacometti's spindly statues represent one of the go-to faces of modern art, though the Bechtler exhibit focused on the twentieth-century artist wholistically, including sculptures as well as paintings and drawings. 

Mallard Creek High School students work on self portraits inspired by modernist Alberto Giacometti.

Photos courtesy of Grace Cote.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New music in Charlotte

Today begins the second week of the Charlotte New Music Festival.

In its second year, this annual event provides composition and choreography students with two weeks of workshops, masterclasses, lectures and composition lessons with local, national and international composers and musicians.

Composition teachers include John Allemeier, Craig Bove, Armando Bayolo, Mark Engebretson, Ronald Parks and Lawrence Dillon.

A slew of guest musicians are also present to perform the new compositions.

Works produced in festival will be premiered at 8 p.m. on Thursday at St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

At 8 p.m. on Friday, a concert at Levine Properties (301 E. 9th St.) will present music written in a speedwriting challenge.

Saturday closes the festival with a presentation of the collaborative works. Music and dance pieces will be featured in the 8 p.m. concert, also at Levine Properties.

All concert tickets are $15. A full schedule of events is available in this document.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sum Art Show

At 7 p.m. on Friday, the Birdsong Brewing Company will host Sum Art Show--a summer-themed show featuring seven artists/designers. Many are from around here, but not everyone is local.

In case the date's significance eludes you, Friday is the summer solstice.

Artists include Cathleen Foley, Nick Irwin, KC Preslar, Dan Romanoski, Sam White, Karlie Winchell and Chris Cureton, who organized the event.

The evening is free and is scheduled to last until 1 a.m. You can learn more here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Charlotte cartoonist in final 3 on 'Strip Search'

In the end of April, The Charlotte Observer published an article about cartoonist Abby Howard, who grew up in Charlotte and is competing on "Strip Search," a reality game show for web cartoonists. At age 20, Howard is the youngest of a dozen cartoonist summoned to participate in the challenges.

Now, she is in the final trio of contestants. In the final challenge, Howard was required to create a brand new comic with six strips, three character bios and one t-shirt design. Tuesday night, the final episode of "Strip Search" airs, revealing the winner. You can tune in to at 7:30 p.m. PST to see if Howard will win $15,000 and a year in the Penny Arcade studios.

You can also check out Howard's personal web comic here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

ArtSí celebrates their tenth anniversary

This weekend, ArtSí opens their tenth-anniversary celebration with several events in Uptown.

ArtSí is Charlotte's arts community initative to support and connect Latino artists in Mecklenburg County. 

The celebration--called Con A de Arte (A is for Art) will begin at 9 p.m. on Saturday with a kickoff party as Cosmos Café. From 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, there will be a literary night at the West Boulevard Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. A closing reception and awards ceremony will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday at the Mint Museum Uptown. Here, featured artists will respond to the exhibition "Sociales: Débora Arango Arrives Today," on view at the Mint through this Sunday.

Award winners will be recognized at the final event. Recipients include Edwin Gil, Queens University of Charlotte, Rosie Molinary and Lucilla Ruvalcaba.

To learn more about these artists and events, visit

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Brevard Music Center 2013 season announcement

Having grown up just south of the North Carolina line, N.C. was always a special destination for my family--we only went as a treat, usually for good food or good music. Brevard Music Center's summer festival received many visits, and a file of my best memories include listening to an excellent orchestral or operatic performance in Brevard's open air auditorium as the summer storms hissed in the trees just a few feet away.
Between June 21 and August 4, Brevard will present orchestral, opera, wind ensemble, new music, chamber music and recital programs.
Opera productions include Franz Lehár's "The Merry Widow," Peter Brook’s "The Tragedy of Carmen," Verdi’s "Falstaff" and a new feature: Opera in a Box. Composer Michael Ching   will bring his work-in-progress and finish it with the help of Brevard's opera students and staff. 
The orchestra will play "Scheherazade," Tchaikovsky's symphonies nos. 5 and 6, the "Pines of Rome" and Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony," to name a few. Classical guitarist Celil Refik Kaya will join the orchestra to play Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranuez." Conductors will include Keith Lockhart, JoAnn Falletta, Matthias Bamert, Jeff Tyzik, Grant Llewellyn and Ken Lam.
Additionally, Brevard puts on free events, pops concerts and pre-concert events, and on July 23, Garrison Keillor will host "A Prairie Home Companion" on their Radio Romance Tour.
To see a full list of festival events and ticket prices, visit

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Last week to connect

This is the last week McColl Center for Visual Art will house "Connectivity," an exhibit curated by Cynthia-Reeves Projects.

With a variety of traditional and unusual media, the pieces in "Connectivity" address interaction and intersection--how and why we connect. Learn more in this Q&A with the curator.

Whether it be John Grade's wood and resin sphere or Janet Echelman's colorful net sculpture, something on view will hold your attention.

The first pieces I saw when entering the repurposed church were created by Beth Ganz. Two large prints of vines hang beside each other, covered with wax paper painted with lines mimicking the vine directions. The black and white print juxtaposes the bright--sometimes neon--paint. I haven't worked out why the pieces resonated so strongly with me, but I have envisioned the wax and paint covering on every framed thing in my home.

Check it out. The show ends Saturday.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Classical musicians making fun of classical musicians

Last weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of attending a chamber music concert at Spoleto Festival USA. I attended each of the 11 concerts in the 2012 season and have looked forward to this season since the day it ended last year.

The programs are adventurous, the musicians are impeccable and spirited and Geoff Nuttall, the series director, earns the superlative of the best classical music presenter I have ever seen (I am more sure of this every time I see him). No one regards the music more highly than he, but he also displays great irreverence toward it, hitting on my favorite combination of qualities: a commitment to excellence without taking things too seriously. This is a big part of Nuttall's success and popularity.

Nuttall introduced a viola and piano duo with a mixture of undying devotion to its composer and...viola jokes. 

Mind you, this category of humor adapts easily to whatever your favorite instrument to hate is; I changed "viola" to "bassoon" for my editor, who loves to mock the bass double reed. Here are Nuttall's jokes:

What do lightning and a violist's fingers have in common?
They never strike the same place twice.

What's the difference between a viola and an onion?
Nobody cries when you cut up a viola.

What does the Royal London Philharmonic viola section have in common with The Beatles?
Neither have played together since the 1970s.

Feel free to appropriate these for whatever instrument plagues you--they work especially nicely for the saxophone or bagpipes.

Here's a bonus joke, not heard at Spoleto: 

What's the difference between a viola and a vacuum cleaner?
You don't have to plug a viola in for it to suck.

Ba-dum ching.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The real delight of 'Homeland': TV binge

You probably already know this: The Charlotte Observer hosted a television cast and crew of 65 people--including Claire Danes--last Tuesday when "Homeland" used our newsroom to film a scene for their third season. Read more about that here.

Those of us who grew up watching Danes struggle through adolescent turmoil as Angela Chase in "My So-Called Life" have not forgotten her teenage heroism; I worked hard not to blurt approval of how she dealt with Jordan Catalano when she walked past my desk.

The filming was exciting, but perhaps more exciting was the excuse to engage in a favorite past time: binge TV.

Despite my admiration for Danes, I hadn't seen a single episode of "Homeland" when we got word that the show would be in the newsroom (This is almost entirely because "Homeland" isn't on any of the internet TV providers--Hulu, Netflix, etc.--you can watch it on Showtime's website, but you have to have a television subscription to access it online, and I haven't had a TV in my home for ten years. That didn't stop me, though: I paid to add Showtime to my parents' cable package for the month so I could watch it online--it's my duty as a cultural reporter.).

I gave myself two weeks to watch two 12-episode seasons, definitely a time commitment with hour-long episodes (read: binge opportunity). I won't tell you how many episodes I watched a day, or, consequently, how many hours of sleep I missed, but it didn't take the whole two weeks.

I'm always a little ashamed if I let myself watch a few hours of internet TV (hence the long and justifying lead in), but the more I bare my guilt to close friends, the more I see how common TV binging is.

Netflix knows about that millennial weakness, too. That's why they've been releasing shows all at once, like the fourth season of "Arrested Development" and "House of Cards." For the record, I have only watched 2 episodes of AD, and on two separate days, no less (am I feverish?).


Now comes the hard part: waiting for new episodes, just like in the old days (two years ago). After finishing season 2 of "Homeland," I'm ravenous to know what Saul will do as head of the CIA. Is this good or bad news for Carrie? Withdrawal from binge TV is rough.

A friend and I discussed the phenomenon of binge television watching last night. His thoughts: "This is America! What do you mean I can't load the next episode??"